Tag Archives: laos

Japan x Sabai: Sounds, Sights, Tastes, Smiles, Friendship a Feast at Tokyo’s Laos Festival ’19

Laos Festival 2019 Celebrated in Tokyo, Japan May 25-26, 2019

Dancing, Friendship, Frivolity & Unmistakable Sound of World Heritage Listed Bamboo-Piped Khaen Among the Greetings to Tokyo’s Famous Yoyogi Park for Japan’s Laos Festival 2019, The Laotian Times reports.

Passengers Plus: 2nd Terminal In Plans for Wattay International Airport in Laos’ Capital Vientiane

Vientiane's Wattay International Airport in 2018 (Hazama Ando Corporation)

Increasing passenger numbers via Vientiane’s Wattay Airport as Laos pushes plans for a second terminal forward in capital.

Wildlife In Sights: Pressures On Iconic Tiger, Elephant Draws Media Attention To Challenges Facing Laos

Tiger & Elephant Populations Under Local, Regional, Global Pressure: Laos biodiversity in the international media spotlight.

With the release of a major UN report on biodiversity loss, the state of and threats to wildlife worldwide and in hotspots like Laos including iconic species like the tiger and elephant draw more international media attention, The Laotian Times reports.

The most comprehensive ever completed, the UN Report IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ 

The efforts of one award-winning wildlife defender to shed light on the plight of animals kept at illegal tiger farms posing as zoos in Laos was covered by the Washington Post.

Emaciated Tiger (Washington Post)

Emaciated Tiger (Washington Post)

“They all want hope and happy endings,” The Washington Post quotes Swiss conservationist Ammann as saying of many well-meaning yet naive folk at home and around the world.

“And I don’t see any happy endings. I can’t create fiction from what I see as fact,” 

Alleged Tiger Trader Nikhom Keovised (Washington Post)

Alleged Tiger Trader Nikhom Keovised (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, pachyderms were the focus of coverage by US-based National Public Radio (NPR) ‘A Million Elephants’ No More: Conservationists In Laos Rush To Save An Icon.

“The national government also has a reputation of being supportive of elephant conservation efforts across Laos. Within the last 30 years, catching wild elephants and trading wildlife have been banned. Laws severely restrict the logging industry in its use of elephants. Yet, despite these efforts, “if current trajectories continue there will be no elephants left in Laos by the year 2030,” NPR quoted an article co-written by Chrisantha Pinto, an American biologist at the center, as saying.

Challenges Facing Laos' Wildlife including Iconic Tigers and Elephants (NPR)

Challenges Facing Lao’ Wildlife including Iconic Tigers and Elephants (NPR)

The challenges facing the planet, its plants and animals are real.

What Would Buddha Do?

With a biodiversity hotspot like Laos under pressure from regional and global pressures brought by unsustainable human activity and law-breaking, it’s time to get serious about enforcing the rule of law to protect what natural beauty the country has left for the next generations of our and all species.

Revitalized Role: New United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms Sara Sekkenes Assumes Post in Laos

The United Nations in Lao PDR has a new Resident Coordinator, the most senior UN Official in Laos.

Ms. Sara Sekkenes a national of Norway succeeds Ms. Kaarina Immonen of Finland in the key diplomatic and development role.

Angkor What? Explore Ancient Architecture on Smaller Scale At Savannakhet’s Stone House

Ancient Heritage That's Older Than Angkor: Savannakhet's Stone House Heuan Hin

Laotian Times‘ own Laotian Eye Takes A Look To Laos’ Pre-Angkorean Treasures Of The Ancient Khmer Empire At The Stone House Huean Hin On a Trip to Savannakhet Province.

25 Year Span: Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Quarter Century Anniversary Arrives Via Australian Aid

First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Opened in 1994, Funded by Australia.

Hundreds of thousands of cross-border passenger and vehicle trips each year are made possible by the first friendship bridge that crosses the Mekong from Laos’ capital to neighboring Thailand and several additional spans just like it.

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma: Alleged Fashion Design Theft Dispute Pushes Change.org Petition To 5,000

Max Mara vs Laos' Oma Change.org petition approaches 5,000

The ongoing design-related dispute involving Italian-based fashion house Max Mara, Laos’ ethnic Oma people Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre over the alleged unauthorized use of traditional ethnic textile motifs from the remote ethnic community in the firm’s fashion offerings is heating up with an online petition reaching 5,000 signatures.

The petition entitled “Urge Max Mara to pull plagiarised ethnic Oma designs from their stores”  was posted on the popular site change.org

The Laotian Times reported on the dispute earlier this month in the article “Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma Ethnic Group: Fashion Chain Facing Claims of Textile Plagiarism, Design Theft“.

Now, an online petition via Change.org to the owner of the Fashion Chain Max Mara was approaching 5,000 signatures as of 10 am Monday April 22 in Laos (UTC+7).

Max Mara has gone silent. It’s been over a week since we sent our last letter, and since then, our petition…

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນອາທິດ ທີ 21 ເມສາ 2019

“Clearly, consumers and the general public feel that harvesting and profiting from the creative work of others, particularly ethnic minority groups in developing countries, is wrong, and allowing it to go unchecked sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter from TAEC to Luigi Maramotti, Chairman of Max Mara, states.

“As the chairman of your privately-owned company, we are now reaching out to you directly. Please demonstrate ethical and moral leadership in the fashion and textile industry.”

“We ask that you pull this line from your stores, online shop, and resellers, issue a public statement committing to not plagiarise in the future, and lastly, donate the proceeds earned from the sales of these designs to an organisation of your choice that works to the protect the rights of ethnic artisans around the world.”

     VS  Max Mara

Efforts to raise awareness to the plight of the intellectual property of some of Laos most remote communities is being spearheaded by the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre of Luang Prabang.

The Petition started by TAEC and addressed to Max Mara Chairman Luigi Maramotti and Designer Director Laura Lusuardi states:

“Max Mara, a billion dollar Italian fashion house, plagiarised traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group from Laos.

“This is not the first time that a fashion brand has copied or appropriated designs of an ethnic group from developing countries, and past experience has shown that these companies are only likely to respond when faced with public pressure and negative press.

“Max Mara digitally duplicated and printed the designs onto fabric, reducing painstaking, traditional motifs to factory-produced patterns.

“The colors, composition, shapes, and even placement are identical to the original Oma designs. The company has not acknowledged the Oma in marketing, labeling, or display of the collection in its stores and online shop, nor has compensation been paid.

Max Mara vs Laos' Oma Change.org petition approaches 5,000

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma Change.org petition approaches 5,000

“The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is calling for Max Mara to (1) pull the clothing line from its stores and online, (2) publicly commit to not plagiarising designs again, and (3) donate 100% of the proceeds already earned from the sale of these garments to an organisation of its choice that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities. More information can be found on TAEC’s Facebook page.

“A largely agrarian community, the Oma live in the remote mountains northern Laos, northwestern Vietnam and southern China.

“Their exact population and number of villages is difficult to establish, as they are often grouped as part of the larger Akha ethnic group. However, it is estimated that in Laos there are fewer than 2,000 Oma across seven villages.

“Traditional clothing is still a vital part of the identity and pride of Oma people — handspun, indigo-dyed garments with vibrant red embroidery and applique is distinctive and unique to their group.

“In recent years, Oma women have begun to earn income through the sale of their distinctive crafts. In remote communities with few economic opportunities, these earnings are vital, and used towards improved nutrition, health, and education for their families.

“Founded in 1951 by Italian Achille Maramotti, Max Mara Fashion Group has grown into an international fashion powerhouse with over 2,200 stores in 105 countries and an online shop.

In 2017, Max Mara Fashion Group recorded global sales of €1.558 billion, across all brands. Unlike most couture houses which are publicly traded or held by multinational corporations, Max Mara Fashion Group is privately-held and helmed by Luigi Maramotti, CEO and a member of the original founding family.

“This is not an example of simple cultural appropriation, where designers utilize ‘ethnic-inspired’ elements, colors, materials, or styling, toeing the murky line between appreciation and appropriation.

“This is stealing the work of artisans who do not have the tools to fight it on their own,” states Tara Gujadhur, Co-Founder of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a social enterprise founded to celebrate and promote Laos’ ethnic cultural heritage and support rural artisans.

“TAEC’s small team based in Luang Prabang, Laos, is working to draw attention to Max Mara Fashion Group’s negligent behavior. Upon discovering the company’s plagiarism purely by chance on 2 April 2019, they sent repeated emails and messages to Max Mara’s headquarters, with no response.

“As a result, TAEC took to social media to amplify their message. The company finally responded on 10 April, but has not issued any apology or admitted their mistake, simply demanding the campaign cease, and then threatening potential legal action.

“A design is intellectual property, whether it’s sketched in a notebook by an illustrator, mocked up by a graphic designer on a computer, or embroidered on indigo-dyed cotton in a remote village in Laos.

“If it’s generally understood that using someone’s photography or written work without acknowledgment or permission is wrong, why would a handcrafted textile design be any different?” states Gujadhur.

“For this behavior to go unchecked is dangerous, as it sends the message that creative work that is traditional and shared by a community and culture in the developing world does not deserve the same kind of protections given to contemporary designs by individual ‘artists’ in the West. Companies can harvest motifs, materials, and ideas freely from communities that lack the educational, financial, and technological resources to have their rights recognized,” elaborates Gujadhur.

TAEC began working with the Oma in Nanam Village in 2010, when the organization was hired by a German development agency to survey their crafts and identify potential income-generating opportunities for the community. Since then, TAEC has helped Nanam to create more market-oriented products, such as pouches, cuffs, and wine bottle sleeves, generating much-needed cash for the women artisans and their families.

“The handicrafts are sold in TAEC’s museum shops in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Laos’ few cities that draws significant international tourism. Currently, TAEC works with over 30 communities across Laos, with fifty percent of the proceeds from their shops flowing directly to artisans.

TAEC has spoken to Khampheng Loma, the headman of Nanam Village, and not surprisingly, he was somewhat unclear about the issue. “The artisans we work with live in a very remote community, so their life experience is completely removed from issues of intellectual property rights. However, we will continue to discuss it with them, as we recognise this as an important, long-term process,” according to Thongkhoun Soutthivilay, TAEC’s Co-Director, who works closely with the Oma women on handicraft production.

“Each motif has a special meaning,” Loma shared. “Our tradition of embroidery makes us who we are. In our culture, you have to know how to embroider to be able to call yourself Oma.”

 

Laotian Eye: Faster Times At Pi Mai As Culture, Continuity, Change Collide at Lao New Year

Laotian Eye: Faster Times At Pi Mai As Culture, Continuity, Change Collide

Thailand knows the time of year as Songkran. Cambodia has Chol Chnam Thmey. Myanmar marks the occasion with Thingyan. In Laos, Boun Pi Mai.

Also Known as Lao New Year, the biggest festival on the Lao calendar brings three days of celebration and rejoicing across the country and beyond, taking place every year from April 14th to 16th.

Celebrating Pi Mai (Lao New Year)

While it’s said each month has a different celebration for the people of Laos, Boun Pi Mai is certainly a very special one to Laotians at home and abroad.

Please Don’t Rush, It’s Wet!

Times change and social mores are on the move, influencing lifestyles of contemporary Laos.

 

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

The celebration of Lao New Year is no different. Yet one constant throughout is water.

Whether its ceremonially offering respect to elders or playing and throwing or sprinkling it on friends, a primary activity is always to get others wet.

Many folks set up a small paddling pool in front of their house.

Others go around in a pickup with a water bucket and throw water for fun, despite it being officially frowned upon.

The roadsides of Vientiane and other cities brighten up, with shopkeepers offering bold New Year fashions to the passing public.

People dress up for the celebration, particularly in Luang Prabang where traditions hold tightest.

ເທວະດາຫລວງ ໄປບູຊາ ຄາຣະວະ ແລະຟ້ອນອວຍພອນປີໃຫມ່ລາວ ຢູ່ວັດຊຽງທອງ ໃນວັນທີ 15/04/2019

Posted by ນະຄອນຫລວງພຣະບາງ Luangprabang City on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 15 ເມສາ 2019

There is a conflict between the decorum required at places of worship and on the street beyond.

Many don’t know the history of when it’s started and why.

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

As a young and curious boy, I heard from my grandfather that it’s a Buddhist festival.

As devotees, we believe (as followers of many other religions also do) that New Year can take bad things away and bring good fortune.

Of course, the festival known as Boun Pi Mai is not only celebrated in Laos.

Celebrations in neighboring countries all derive from the same Buddhist calendar.

These might have been scheduled to coincide with time between harvest and planting seasons to provide a window of rare leisure in the year’s hectic schedule.

These days I can not remember my childhood New Year celebrations in great detail, yet I am sure we didn’t have so many activities available as recently.

Forgotten memories return when I see the children playing with water in a village in Ngoi district near the town of Luang Prabang province.

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

The village was quite rustic, but the children were having heaps of fun just as I did with my friends some 25 years ago.

They fetched water from a stream in the woods.

In my time we had to pump it out of the ground by hand.

Before throwing it over each other of course!

Growing up, our home was by the main roadside of Nontae village inXaythany district, about 25km from Vientiane.

We had a water pump in the village which was close to my house.

All of our friends would be there playing with water together.

We were delighted anytime whenever some people were passing by, so we hurried up to pump the water out and throw at them. We would never tire of it.

I also remember that at the time, many of our fellow countryfolks of the Hmong and Khmu ethnicity didn’t celebrate Boun Pi Mai so much as they might today.

@Lao Youth Radio FM 90.0 Mhz Lao Youth Union

Posted by Laos Briefly on ວັນພະຫັດ ທີ 26 ເມສາ 2018

Due to the difference in cultures, they were sometimes furious when we threw water at them, but we were not concerned enough to stop.

Whatever they said we still gave a blessing to them all the times while showering them repeatedly.

Back to the Village & Family Homes

My family is big and extended one like a tree.

As my grandparents stayed in my house, most of our family would have an appointment at the new year to visit and have a Somma ceremony.

Somma sees children seek forgiveness from parents and older adults by giving Khan-ha (a set of offerings comprising five pairs of flowers and candles) and also conduct a Baci ceremony as well.

I don’t know when I first experienced the Somma ceremony, but we did it with older family members every year for as long as I can remember.

In the past, we had a long three-day celebration but spent more of that time with family and cousins in our village.

Maybe it’s because we didn’t have a car to take us to go away anywhere.

We would do all the traditional and cultural ceremonies such as Somma, Baci, bathing Buddha statues in our local area.

Of course, the festival was primarily a family and community celebration. It was a timeless joy to experience these together.

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Today, Lao New Year remains the biggest festival celebration and taking place everywhere nationwide.

Of course, anyone of any ethnic group or nationality can have fun together in Laos these days at Boun Pimai.

However, some things are changing. More and more cultural traditions are being left by the wayside.

Celebrating Pi Mai AKA Lao New Year in Laos

Young people have more time for loud music than culture, especially along the roadsides, house and drinking venues.

Of course, it’s enjoyable to mess around with water and have fun, but we should be aware of the meaning behind it.

Laotian youth at home and abroad should also know what Lao New Year means and continue the traditional forms of celebration for the benefit of current and future generations.